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Refractory Humic-like Substances: Tracking Environmental Impacts of Anthropogenic Groundwater Recharge

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journal contribution
posted on 20.11.2020, 18:38 by Yaxin Zheng, Wei He, Binghua Li, Jin Hur, Huaming Guo, Xiaomeng Li
To unravel the crucial components of natural organic matter that respond to the process of anthropogenic groundwater recharge (AGR) from different recharge water sources, dissolved organic matter (DOM) and base-extractable particulate organic matter (POM) in groundwater and surface water were analyzed using excitation–emission matrix spectroscopy coupled with parallel factor analysis (EEM–PARAFAC). The EEM and traditional spectral indices of samples show that the fluorescent intensity, molecular weight, and humification degree of the DOM were relatively higher than those of the POM, and the groundwater in the reclaimed water recharge area (RWRA) was more contaminated than in the south-to-north water recharge area (SNWRA). PARAFAC analysis indicates that the DOM was dominated by an allochthonous humic-like substance (C1), whereas the POM was dominated by tryptophan-like substances associated with microbial activity (C2). Partitioning of PARAFAC components between DOM and POM showed that the humic-like substances (C1 and C4) were more likely to be distributed into a dissolved phase compared to the protein-like substances (C2 and C3), which suggested the potential use of C1 and C4 as a tracking indicator. In particular, the clear gradient distributions along both the hydrogeological profile and different aquifer systems in terms of the concentration and composition of C1 also discriminated between the RWRA and SNWRA with regard to the effects of various AGRs on the groundwater. The association between C1 and water-quality indicators revealed by principal component analysis further indicated that refractory humic-like substances would track the environmental impacts of intentional AGR processes.